An original initiative, «Chaillot colo» allows young people to learn dance during the school holidays of All Saints. For its 2nd edition, the event is held in Val d'Oise, Martinique and Angoulême.

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This is a promising initiative. In line with the policy of the Ministry of Culture towards young people far from the cultural offerchoreographer Rachid Ouramdane, director of Chaillot National Dance Theatre, revisited, under the name of Chaillot colo », the summer camps of our childhood by proposing to young people who do not leave to learn dance during the school holidays of All Saints. « Dancing is about showing how we love and accept to move in front of each other’s eyes ,” he says.

In fact, the experience of «Chaillot colo», whose second edition has just begun during the Toussaint 2022 holidays in the Val-d'Oise, Martinique and Angoulême, allows young people to discover an artistic practice and experience themselves in their bodies. This is one of its primary objectives. This operation also allows – it is a third pillar “ indispensable ” in the eyes of the choreographer – to grasp another dimension, that of “the socialization » in a unique environment. A look back at this initiative with Rachid Ouramdane, who was visited on Thursday 27 October in Mériel (Val d'Oise) by a special guest: Rima Abdul Malak, Minister of Culture.

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What is the principle of the Chaillot colos, what is the philosophy?

This device, inspired by a similar project of the Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble, is a response to the fact that some children, for economic or cultural reasons, do not go on holiday. The idea is to fit into their lifestyle by offering workshops around the movement during the holidays. To dance is to show how we love and accept to move in front of each other’s eyes. This raises important questions, especially at this age. Trying to allow these young people to approach this relationship with their bodies in a fulfilling way is something that is commonly practised in dance pedagogy. These roommates are a way to reveal yourself.

Another issue is the group. These roommates are real spaces for socialization. The idea is to experience life even more in community. Finally, we take these young people to unique environments. This week, I am in the Val-d'Oise, in Mériel, in a leisure centre loaned by the Seine-Saint-Denis. We are practically in the countryside, the idea is also to bring practices that will sensitize young people to ecology. In the past, I did camp in urban areas, so it’s another type of attention, architecture, heritage, that is solicited.

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How does this project make sense to Chaillot?

There is only one National Dance Theatre in the entire territory, and that is Chaillot. Theatre has a responsibility to bring together all forms of dance, whether professional or amateur. I see people dancing every day on the Trocadero square. Dance has never been more present in people’s lives: 70% of TikTok’s content is choreographic content. I am also thinking of cinema, it is only to see the success achieved by Yet, the film by Cédric Klapisch on the path of a dancer. The National Theatre of Chaillot must by all means share the dance.

In addition, the Chaillot National Theatre has public service missions. As Director, I must ensure that these missions benefit as many as possible. When the Ministry of Culture gave me the honour of proposing the direction of this place, what was identified in my career was the place of artistic creation backed by a desire to share it, to link it in interactive devices that unite the public in the world of care, tourism, education, sport... «Chaillot Colo», in this respect, is part of a constellation of programs in which there is always at the back-plan this concern to use dance to bring together worlds and reach all audiences and populations.

To be there to support the other, to prevent him from hurting himself, to allow him to do things he could not do alone, is all the spirit of the Chaillot colo

If you were to take stock of the first camp that took place last summer and brought together twelve young people from Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, aged 8 to 14, what would it be?

This first camp confirmed what we unfortunately already knew, namely that young people, in this case from Paris' suburbs, do not always have the chance to access certain cultural spaces. It’s up to us to invent bridges. When young people, who live 45 minutes from the centre of Paris, see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, it must ask us about how we share our heritage. A young girl had this sentence at the end of the week: it’s beautiful and it’s also for us This formulation says many things in its apparent simplicity. There is an awareness of an appropriation of things.

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One of the peculiarities of Chaillot colos is to rely on local actors.

Indeed. Each time, the Chaillot colo co-build. The work is done on a multiple scale, with regional cultural affairs directorates (Drac), cities, local authorities, and sometimes also directly with cultural places. Our model is open. What is important is to have partners who are concerned to accompany children, to record in their educational paths moments of discovery of themselves and others.

The summer camp I was in this morning was organized in partnership with the Seine-Saint-Denis and the educational city of Seine-Saint-Denis. Another has just started in the overseas departments, in Martinique, in partnership with the Cultural Affairs Directorate, a third takes place in Angoulême at the Maria Casares House, to Alloue, as part of a partnership with the CAJ Grand Font Cultural and Sports Social Centre. These flats are built to listen to the territories and their resources.

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Aux vacances de Toussaint 2022, une Chaillot colo s'est tenue à Meriel (Val d'Oise)

What are the themes of these three fall camp?

In Martinique, with Aurélie Charron, one of our associated artists, it is a camp around movement and the narrative of oneself with also a dancer and a director. As I have worked a lot with extreme athletes, the one I propose in Mériel, around the surpassing of oneself, brings together athletes and artists. In Angoulême, Jann Gallois, another of our associated artists, takes as a starting point Pacamambo, Wajdi Mouawad’s play, she talks about new beginnings in life.

Again, Chaillot has responsibilities to the entire national territory. That is why, during the next break, we will continue this initiative in other regions— Many projects are being implemented. One of the challenges is to create mobility. We must know how to bring art where we do not expect it, to work in both directions: to bring the population to cultural places, and to ensure that cultural places go to the territories.

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What are your first impressions of this week’s camp?

A visit to Chaillot preceded the week in Mériel. When you first come to Chaillot, it’s always a great discovery. The young people visited the palace, they saw the artists at work, they discovered the trades of technique, costume, etc. and they had time to do a first choreography in the large dance foyer with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

And since this morning, they have taken their quarters in the place where they will spend the week. They discover a group, speakers, disciplines. With the artists of collective XY, we began with an acrobatic practice, the practice of hand-to-hand, which is as demanding for oneself as it demands attention from the other. Being there to support each other, to keep them from hurting each other, to allow them to do things that they couldn’t do alone, that’s what’s inside these figures that allow them to get into this week and hopefully start to transform.

Interview with Rachid Ouramdane, President and CEO of Chaillot - National Dance Theatre